Following the success of the first season earlier in the year, the second season of this popular event started off on the 22nd September. This time 45 bowlers signed up and were separated into 4 Divisions which meant some very talented players who did not play the first time around found themselves in the lower Divisions, but as the top 4 in each Division qualified for the playoffs, they still had the opportunity to take the title and the top prize of $10,000 baht!
With all 231 league matches having to be completed by the 10th November the bowls action at the Retreat Lawn Bowls Club in Pattaya was frenetic for those 7 weeks but with such great camaraderie amongst all the players and cooperation with people helping to mark and the brilliant job done by statistician and coordinator, Johnny Morrison, all those games were completed within the timeframe…an amazing feat!!
The top 16 players then gathered on Saturday 13th November for the start of the knock-out phase, with the quarter finals being played on the same day. The semi-final and final were moved to Sunday 14th November on the advice of the local weather guru!
The complex formula derived for sorting the seedings for this stage did unfortunately mean that some had a harder route than others but that is the luck of the draw as they say. Most of the first-round games went to form but the match between two of the top seeds, Ian McKissock and last season finalist Mal Lockyer, was always going to be close call. It went down to the wire with Mal just squeezing Ian out 21-19.
The action really starting to warm up in the quarter finals. Geoff Taylor, who has only been bowling for a year sailed into the semi-finals with a solid win against another relative newcomer Thanachpak Ratchain (Bon), Mal Lockyer had another ding dong battle with top seed Darren Chatwin who pipped Mal 21-20 at the death. Peter Barnes unfortunately had to retire from injury handing Ms. Nappawan Yonloy (Pupae) a fortuitous pass into the semi-finals. The final match between the experienced pair of Antony Griffiths and Alan McMaster saw Antony take line honours 21-17.
Darren won the first semi-final between him and Antony comfortably and then waited to see which of the Division 2 bowlers would meet him in the final. Pupae stormed ahead and was leading 20-11 when rain interrupted play and on resuming it was all Geoff, playing some incredible shots and overhauling the deficit to win a thriller 21-20. After only a short break he had to try and focus again in the final. Given his handicap Geoff pushed ahead but his very experienced opponent can never be underestimated.
Geoff led 11-1 at one stage but Darren slowly pegged it back an went to 15-15 and then ahead 17-18 in amongst some heavy rain and premature darkness. But the floodlights came on to allow the game to finish but caused a lapse in concentration by Geoff and opened the door and let Darren in to take the game 21-17. Congratulations to Darren as Champion, to Geoff as runner up and all the finalists winning through in such a wonderful event.
The 3rd Season which promises to be even bigger and better will be on the grass starting on 22nd February 2022.